US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held their first meeting together earlier this week. Mr Biden asked his counterpart to increase Canada’s defence spending amid China and Russia’s increasing military efforts.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a source familiar with the discussions said the US President called on Mr Trudeau to upgrade the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The NORAD is a combined organisation between the US and Canada which provides aerospace protection for Northern America.
It was a crucial part of the two countries’ Cold War deterrence strategy against the Soviet Union.
The system was designed to warn military allies of any approaching attacks from the north.
But the once triumphant defence system has now become dated.
According to the WSJ, new missiles deployed by Russia and China can travel at more than five times the speed of sound and fly farther than their previous models.
Michael Dawson, who served as Canada’s political adviser, said the existing surveillance network would be overwhelmed by Russia and China’s new weapons, the WSJ reported.
Additionally, a melting polar ice cap in the Arctic Ocean is causing a once impassable route to be clear for longer periods of time.
READ MORE: China set to ramp up military budget amid tensions
President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau agreed to upgrade the system in his first bilateral deal with a foreign leader.
A White House statement released on Tuesday read: “We also agreed to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command — NORAD — which is still the only bi-national military command of its kind.
“And we will launch an expanded US-Canadian Arctic dialogue to cover issues related to continental security, economic and social development, and Arctic governance.”
Canadian officials have acknowledged the importance of upgrading the system.
The Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said in an interview last month: “Now is the time to really speed things up.”